Pakistan's BTS ARMY is pretty furious on Twitter and they certainly have reason to be. A billboard that was put up in Gujranwala to celebrate BTS member Jungkook's birthday on September 1 was taken down within hours by a politician.
Korean boyband BTS has a deeply devoted fandom — the BTS ARMY — that doesn't mind putting in the time and effort to make the young men of the music group feel special. They often go the extra mile to wish each member on their birthdays. On Jungkook's birthday this year around, ARMY from all around the world wished the now 24-year-old in unique ways. In India, fans wished the Kpop idol by having bus shelter billboards put up, all of which showed images of Jungkook with text that read 'Happy Jungkook Day'.
ARMY in Pakistan didn't want to be left behind in their efforts. A BTS fan from Gujranwala pulled a few strings with Gujranwala's Chamber of Commerce and had a billboard of Jungkook put up on GT Road, near Sheranwala Bagh in Gujranwala.
The advertiser who owns the billboard, Younus Mughal, told Images that the ad was supposed to stay up for two days. "The business centre of the chamber of commerce had asked us to put the billboard ad up for two days. They had the ad put up before we could do so ourselves."
But the ad disappeared from the billboard in a matter of hours, leaving many fans confused about what exactly had happened.
"We took it off later that same day in the evening. When we saw the ad while removing it, we didn't really get what it was about, just that it showed someone's face. Furqan Aziz Butt from the Jamaat-e-Islami had told us to take ad off immediately," Mughal explained.
“The advertisement was put up by a person from Lahore. They paid Rs100,000 to have it put up for this person’s [Jungkook's] birthday,” Butt, a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami who is contesting the PP-57 Gujranwala seat in the Punjab Assembly, told Images. He is the man behind the billboard being taken down and also posted about it on Facebook.
He claimed the man in the poster [Jungkook] supports homosexuality and hence he deemed it critical to have the poster removed. His claim is not, however, backed up by any evidence in the form of statements or messages by the members of BTS.
“It was a public complaint. We saw it posted on the Amazing Gujranwala [Facebook] group and went there immediately and had it taken down,” he said, adding that it was a 15 by 20 foot vertical board.
New of the ad's removal spread like wildfire on Twitter.
Once more fans became aware why the advertisement was taken down, they expressed resentment and hoped that BTS would never come to Pakistan, given what had happened.
"I hope BTS never notice or come to Pakistan .... It's for the better," said another user.
The Pakistan ARMY drew support from friends across the border.
Kpop stars are no strangers to hate — they are often subjected to baseless criticism for looking ‘effeminate’ — and BTS has also spoken up about facing hate for the way they look, but to hate on and malign someone because you believe their clothing or style is somehow not the norm is a form of toxic masculinity. Men wearing bright colours, makeup and making bold fashion choices doesn’t make them any less manly and shouldn't make them targets for hatred.
Judging people based solely on how they look and dress isn’t doing anyone any favours. We hope people will realise that a poster wishing a musician a happy birthday isn’t harmful and that there are far worse things in the world than people listening to Kpop.
But this road bump isn't likely to deter any BTS fans. As their detractors will soon come to realise, it's very difficult to keep the BTS ARMY down.